10 Agatha Christie Film Adaptations To Watch Before ‘Death On The Nile’
Agatha Christie is regularly cited as one of the greatest crime novel writers of all time, and it’s very true that she’s responsible for many of the genre’s classic tropes. Additionally, many of the most successful mysteries outside of his own work owe a debt to twists and turns in his writing (We’re Watching You, Knives out).
The first adaptation of Christie’s works dates back to 1928 with The death of Mr. Quinnbased on a short story from the collection The mysterious Mr. Quin. Since then, there have been countless movies, graphic novels, TV shows, and even video games dedicated to Christie’s works. Despite being repeatedly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new version of Christie’s classic Death on the Nile is just around the corner. In the meantime, here are some of the best film adaptations of Christie’s many novels to watch to prepare you for the new take.
prosecution witness (1957)
This dark take on Christie’s story is directed by a Hollywood icon Billy Wilderand has all the great wit and quick dialogue that the scripts he wrote (or in this case, co-wrote, with Harry Kurnitz and Larry Marcus). Leonard Vole (Power of Tyron) was charged with murder, but Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton) believes he is innocent and agrees to take his case.
Classic thriller tropes unfold as Vole’s wife, Christine (Marlene Dietrich) Take the speech. In typical Christie fashion, you can’t know for sure who killed who or why until the credits roll, but the stellar performances and top-notch screenplay make this one of the great thrillers of its time or any other.
Death on the Nile (1978)
Watching this one ahead of the 2022 reboot might kill some of the suspense, but there’s no denying that it’s one of Christie’s most beloved versions of a novel. Featuring an ensemble in the tradition of many of the best murder mysteries, this is an essential film for classic film fans and genre aficionados. An added bonus is that he introduces us to a Poirot played by Peter Ustinovwho would portray the detective in several more takes and is considered one of the best to ever take on the role.
Like so many Agatha Christie stories, it revolves around murder. When Jackie de Bellefort introduces her friend Linnet to her fiancé Simon, she is shocked that they quickly fall in love and marry. Seemingly by accident, they all end up cruising the Nile on the SS Karnak. Linnet’s body appears with a gunshot wound, and while the suspects might seem pretty clear, you can bet there are twists and turns along the way.
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
A little like Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express presents us with a set of rich characters played by some of the great actors of the time. Poirot boards a train and a businessman named Ratchett tries to hire him as a bodyguard. Poirot refuses and then asks why Ratchett is getting death threats to begin with. The next morning he has been stabbed to death and Poirot has a mystery to solve.
The best part of most Christie takes is watching the many great actors take on his many characters, and this is no different. With performances from an eclectic cast including Lauren Bacall, Jacqueline Bissett, Sean Connory, and Ingrid Bergman, it’s a movie that has to be experienced firsthand to be truly appreciated. While it is true that no adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express cracked the novelit is as laudable an attempt as the one that has been made.
The mirror cracked (1980)
Introducing us to modest elderly detective Miss Marple as portrayed by Angela Lansbury, it’s another sprawling cast of epic names. Two actresses and longtime rivals, Marina and Lola, are set to star in a play about the relationship between Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I.
When Marina fan Heather drinks a drink meant for Marina and quickly dies of poisoning, Miss Marple gets involved despite a recent foot injury. Presenting us with the list of suspects, Marple solves the case, unfortunately ruining the killer’s cleverly laid plans.
Murder at a gallop (1963)
Classic film studio MGM has made no less than four Miss Marple films with Lady Margaret Rutherford which were all led by George Pollock in the 1960s, and this was his second. When Marple and a friend named Mr. Stringer are out fundraising for a local charity, they turn to the notoriously reclusive Mr. Enderby. While they’re there, he falls down a flight of stairs, and that’s the Enderby of it.
Where is it? Marple decides to get involved, and her suspicions that Enderby’s death was no accident seem to be confirmed when she goes to visit her sister Cora and finds that she has been murdered. Although Marple quickly discovers the identity of the killer, she, like Poirot, sets a trap to leave the culprit tripping.
Desyat Negrityat (1987)
The classic Christie configuration; eight strangers arrive on a remote island, drawn to each other by receiving an offer they couldn’t refuse, whether it’s a vacation trip or an offer of paid employment. One by one, each of their secrets is revealed, and we discover that each of them has an ulterior motive for being there.
Although there have been many adaptations of And then there was no more, this Soviet version explicitly follows the novel to the letter, until the originally quite dark ending. With most takes on the story after the play’s relatively cheerful conclusion, this one stands out as one of the best but also darkest of Christie’s stories, as we discover that none of the eight can be considered truly innocent.
Mystery of the Seven Dials (nineteen eighty one)
Lady Brent is one of Christie’s lesser-known detective protagonists, but she definitely should appear more often than she does because she’s a lot of fun. It was a sequel to Why didn’t they ask Evans? and more or less followed the plot of the novel. Gerry Wade is constantly sleeping and several characters decide to prank him by setting a number of alarms, but when the alarms go off and he doesn’t wake up, they discover his body. As they realize one of the Seven Revivals is missing, questions swirl around the mysterious death.
Lady Brent returns home, learning that it was in her bedroom that Wade died, which is reason enough for her to take the case of his “misadventure death”. This leads her to discover a mysterious association known as the Seven Dials, a group she spy on meeting one night. Do you want a murder mystery, Lady Brent? Because that’s how you get a murder mystery.
Why didn’t they ask Evans? (1980)
When a man named Bobby Jones discovers a dying man, he is puzzled by the man’s last words, “Why didn’t they ask Evans?” Bobby and his friend Lady Derwent aim to get to the bottom of things to find many more questions than answers as they try to figure out who would have wanted this man dead.
This relatively big-budget made-for-TV movie brought another incredible cast to Christie’s work, and the film features some gorgeous locations and cinematography to boot. Christie’s standard tropes like poison and mistaken identity guarantee, but the impassioned performances and lively dialogue make this a must-watch for fans.
Wobbly house (2017)
Sophia Leonides asks PI Charles Hayward to investigate the death of her grandfather Aristotle, which she believes was a murder although it is considered an accidental death. Hayward takes the case despite not feeling particularly obligated as he and Sophia had a previous affair, but he quickly discovers that most people in Aristotle’s life had many reasons for wanting him dead.
As Hayward goes from person to person through another star cast, he deduces that Sophia was onto something and there’s probably more to this crime than initially suspected. However, the resolution is not what Sophia had hoped for, making it one of the more tragic versions of a lesser-known Christie novel.
Evil under the sun (1982)
With Peter Ustinov back as Poirot, it begins with a person on a casual hike discovering the lifeless body of a woman. Naturally, Poirot isn’t about to let him lie and he begins to dig around the quaint resort town he’s in in order to uncover the motives for his murder.
Poirot soon finds himself entangled in another complex mystery in which there are many possible motives and everyone is a suspect. With performances of greats like Jane Birkin, Maggie Smith, and Diana Riggit’s another set that delights in playing its part as a potential killer.
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